Backpacks And Rucksacks: Some Points You Should Know Before Buying

Backpacks – known in Europe more commonly as rucksacks – are a key piece of walking equipment – but with so many on the market, which do you go for? This article aims to give some helpful hints on choosing the right one for you.

Backpacks (I’ll call them this for the sake of convenience) come in many different sizes, materials, weights and colours. You are simply spoilt for choice. The right backpack for you will largely be determined by what kind of outdoor activity you undertake and, like most pieces of personal equipment, getting it right can make a lot of difference to the fun you get out of your day. Let’s look at some different types.

Small backpacks – sometimes known as daysacks – are typically made of lightweight nylon and have a capacity of 20-35 litres. They are usually fitted with a pair of padded shoulderstraps and may have a couple of outside pockets fitted with zip closures. The main bag should have a drawstring with a stay-tight sliding toggle fitted and a top flap fastened by a couple of click-buckles. This type of backpack isn’t normally reinforced in any way.

These are fine for taking a day’s walk in fine weather in gentle countryside. The nylon is usually showerproofed but won’t keep out a real downpour – it’s not intended to. This size backpack will hold a packed lunch, a bottle of water and your jacket, with the side pockets handy for gloves, keys and the like. It will be very light and should be easy to carry – look for well-padded shoulder straps!

Medium backpacks normally have a capacity of between about 45 to 90 litres. The material is usually again nylon, although of a heavier grade than the daysack. They will again have the main bag, two or more exterior pockets that should have storm flaps in addition to the zip fasteners, and are far more weatherproof than the daysack. The main bag will again be closed by the drawstring and stay-tight toggle but the top flap will be thicker and far more water resistant. It may also include a pocket as well and there’s usually ice-axe straps fitted to the outside back of the backpack, together with various ‘d-loops’ for attaching a tent or sleeping bag. This size of backpack is suited to more serious trekking with maybe a night or two out.

Large backpacks are generally in the range of 100 – 150 litres (and that’s big!) but in construction are similar to medium backpacks, though they obviously have more room and more pockets. This size of backpack is normally only used on serious hikes that may last many days and will hold just about everything you will need for this kind of extended expedition.

Medium and large backpacks can be had in a variety of material weights, from fairly light nylon up to really thick cordura-type material that is very tough indeed. They can also be fitted with waterproof liners though many now come with ‘Gore-Tex’ type lining as standard. The weight and durability of material is determined by conditions you think you might experience – there’s no point getting a backpack that will stand an Arctic winter if you normally go hiking in Nevada in the summer!

The other thing that is normally fitted to larger backpacks is a waistbelt and, on some, a chest stabiliser strap. These are not for show – they make a huge difference to your comfort and stamina when walking. In older-type backpacks the belt was an added-on item – in modern backpacks it’s built-in. Wear it as tight as is comfortable. It should sit on the hips and these will then take a lot of the weight from your shoulders – the shoulder straps become more like stabilisers, aided by the cheststrap, and keep the backpack in place. Large backpacks often have a rigid internal frame to stop sagging – this is also a real boon on a long hike.

Another feature to look for, especially if you’re planning to walk in summer or hotter areas, is an ‘aeroback’ design. This is a rigid plate that forms the part of the backpack nearest your back. It’s curved slightly away from your back and holds the backpack in such a position that air can circulate, helping to avoid the ‘soaked shirt syndrome’. I have one myself. They’re great.

One other thing to remember. When you go to buy your backpack, take all the clothing and equipment you think you will need for your kind of hiking. If it doesn’t fit the backpack you first look at, try a bigger one! Nothing is more frustrating than trying to cram everything into a too-small sack. Things break, bottles burst – you get the picture.

In summary, always get the best backpack you can afford and perhaps one size bigger than you think you might ever need. It’s surprising how things mount up! Visit a reputable outdoors retailer and don’t be shy about trying several out until you find one that really feels ‘right’ for you. You’re going to be together for a while – take your time and you’ll find your backpack really is the best friend you can have on a hike.

Home School Tips For Working Parents

Home school families tend to be busy. They are busy because there seems to be more time available for many other activities along with schooling. Because of this scheduling is a priority. As a family, time is needed to not only school but to get along as a family. If you find your self running in different directions with out time to breathe or relax, you are in need of a schedule.

It is very possible to home school your children and have a work at home business. Many people I know have such situations are very successful. But again, the main reason is scheduling. It is important to have a routine set in place for you and your children. With a routine, you are able to school your children, maintain your house and run a successful business all at the same time. I am living proof of that very thing, and of course had to go through trial and error before finding what worked for us. I hope to share some insight on that so that you can be successful too.

Here are some tips to guide you:

* Family Calendar – sit as a family and design a calendar. It can be very simple or more elaborate with color coding for each family member and their activities. Determining the time needed for each activity including schooling will help you design your hours to work at home.

* Set time limits on electronics such television time and computer time. This is very important since this seems to take up a lot of precious time. We limit computer time for each child to an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. Sometimes it changes because of the school work that needs to be accomplished with the computer but setting time limits makes them get their work done quicker.

* Do not use the television as a babysitter. Having many children, it is very easy to rely on the television to entertain your children while working with another child, but this can also be avoided. Choose some quiet time toys or games for them to play with in place of the television.

* Incorporate siesta time or quiet time into your daily routine. During this time children can take naps or read books or color which in turn will give you time to work at your business or other chores you may have. The children must be made aware that this is quiet time and you can use this time wisely for your business.

* Use a helper. You may either hire a helper or have an older child help with the other children, so that you can get work accomplished. This is a great opportunity for a fellow home schooler to earn extra money or for an older sibling to learn responsibilities in caring for the younger ones or help tutor them as well.

It has taken me some time to develop a schedule that works for our family and it is one that continuously changes, but with a daily routine the children know what to expect. It is amazing home much time we truly have if we remove the distractions of electronics. We read together as a family and cook as a family. These are times that we are not only bonding as a family but the children are learning as well.

The beauty of home schooling is that we are not restrained by time schedules. What I mean is that we do not have to be up at the crack of dawn to catch a school bus. We can determine our schedule according to the activities we have planned for the day. We can schedule classes to begin at 10am or schedule ourselves to be finished by lunchtime. We are able to take family vacations and still school our children if we choose. Every moment is incorporated into our home school life.

Having the flexibility enables us to have a work at home business. The children will see us incorporate our time wisely and will learn valuable lessons from watching us. Scheduling has worked for us because of our home business. When not working we are schooling and because home schooling is basically one on one tutoring, the time spent teaching is valuable. You will be amazed at how much schooling can get done in a short amount of time. Use your time wisely and you too, will have a successful home school environment and a business you can be proud of.